Winemaker Frederic Coulon of Domaine de Beaurenard visited New Zealand this week and described his family’s journey into biodynamic French winemaking as being inspired by his father.
The seventh generation French winemaker said his father used chemicals on the winery’s vineyards, post war in the 1950s, but he encouraged the family to change. And change they did. Today, biodynamic certification is more important than organic certification because it is better for the land. “We don’t do the minimum to be certified, we are doing a lot of preparation. At one time my father used chemicals after the war, but he always described the soil as our capital and told us to see the soil and land as our greatest asset.”
This means that today all 60 hectares of Domaine de Beaurenard’s vines are grown organically and biodynamically with certification to back it up.
The winery values diversity and complexity, as is seen in their vineyards and winemaking. They continue to use all 13 grape varieties that are allowed in the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation, including the white grapes; Picpoul, Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc.
The Beauregard Chateauneuf du Pape red is predominantly Grenache, the most important grape in the appellation and, in the latest wine, the 2016, the blend is 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre and 10% of all the others. The winery also makes a white Chateauneuf du Pape and a Rasteau, featured below.
2018 Te Kano Rosé Central Otago $21
Dry pink wine is on a roll and this one ticks the boxes technically as well as taste-wise. It’s dry technically speaking, with 4 grams of residual sugar per litre, which is the threshold to be classified as dry. This is nicely balanced by Central Otago’s vibrant cool climate acidity, which adds zing to the ripe strawberry flavours in this wine from the super hot 2018 vintage. Winemaker Dave Sutton says the grapes were so ripe on Te Kano’s vineyards in 2018 that they had hand harvested them all before they’d even started to harvest grapes in the 2017 in a comparative timeframe.
Treat of the week
2017 Gulfi Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG $39.99
This wine comes from the east of Sicily where the island’s only DOCG allows winemakers to blend Nero d’Avola (the island’s most planted red grape) with Frappato, a lighter, softer, fruity grape, which balances the bold dark cherry flavours of Nero.
These two grapes are used in varying proportions to make wines ‘Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG’ wines and this is the best I have tried yet. I’m not alone. Italian wine specialist and author, Ian d’Agata, writes in his Native Wine Grapes of Italy book that Vito and Matteo Catania of Gulfi Estate have done more than anyone to highlight how Nero d’Avola can taste in different vineyard sites, different elevations and in blends that allow Nero’s dark flavours to shine.
Those flavours are beautifully balanced by the smooth lightness of Frappato in this full bodied, purple coloured, young red wine. Refreshing acidity adds balance to every lingering sip.
Reaching for the stars
2017 Domaine de Beaurenard Rasteau AC $44.99
Rasteau is a little higher in elevation than Chateauneuf du Pape with a mix of soils ranging from limestone to clay and stony ground. A wine from Rasteau must contain at least 50% Grenache with 20% Syrah and Mourvedre. The warm climate can lead to high alcohol levels, as in this wine, which contains 15% alcohol. It is made from certified organic and biodynamically grown grapes from the winery’s 25 hectare property , which was bought in 1981 by the Coulons.
All grapes were hand harvested and the wine was vinified in Chateauneuf du Pape. Grapes were destemmed and fermented mostly in stainless steel (a small portion in oak) with natural yeasts and a long fermentation between 15 and 35 days. Elevage was 12 months in oak, mostly large mature barrels rather than new oak. The aim is controlled oxidative maturation to soften the wine, not to imprint the taste of oak on the wine. It tastes fresh, dry and full bodied with intense red fruit and spice flavours.